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Reviewed by Rabia Tanveer for Readers' Favorite
The Mandate by Amber Alfaro is the story of one person’s struggles, inner conflict, and the search for hope in the time of COVID. When the pandemic hit, everyone was asked to work from home and stay at home as much as possible. Nothing could have prepared Brandy, a school teacher in Nevada, for what would happen next. With the pandemic raging outside, all Brandy could do was keep the morale of her children and her siblings up while battling panic and anxiety inside. There was much uncertainty, and no one knew when it would end. This is the story of a typical person like you and me, one which highlights what it means to survive a global pandemic.
The Mandate has a unique approach to novel writing. This type of story is called a social media AU (alternate universe) in a fiction world. The readers experience Brandy’s life through her text messages with her family, children, and colleagues. I appreciated that the text messages were realistic and not robotic. Brandy’s struggles and the mental toll on her due to the pandemic were depicted in the most relatable way possible. Author Amber Alfaro kept the emotions high, the characters honest, and the pace perfect. It was almost too easy to read, maybe because I found pieces of myself in Brandy. The struggles she faced due to the many COVID-19 restrictions hit right home. The little nuggets of humor, especially Brandy’s banter with her brother, kept the story interesting and entertaining too.